Many changes have taken place over the past few months at the ASYV. With Jean -Claude Nkulikiyimfura recently being appointed as the new Executive Director, it left the position of Village Director vacant. After a long and meticulous search for his replacement, we are both excited and delighted to announce that we have found the perfect successor to JC in Vincent Kalimba. A few months into his position, we managed to catch up with our new Village Director for an interview.

Briefly, summarize for us where you grew up and what you studied.

I was born in Uganda on February 24th, 1983 as the last child in a family of 10 (two brothers, six sisters girls and both parents). Unfortunately, I lost my father when I was only nine years old, but my siblings and I were raised by a strong, courageous, caring and loving mother. 

Growing up as a refugee, I was stigmatized during my primary education in Uganda. I often experienced hostility toward my family and fellow Rwandese because Uganda was not our country of birth. We would sometimes be accused of stealing resources that did not belong to us. I believe that the xenophobia my family and I were subjected to is what gave us the courage to work hard and seize any opportunities that were available to us. 

I returned to Rwanda with my family in 1995 and began high school at one of the best public institutions in the country - Lycee de Kigali. I chose to study Bio-Chemistry (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics and Geography + languages), in advanced level, and later went on to earn my BSc degree in Food Science and Technology at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology.

Can you tell us a little about your professional background? 

I have over seven years experience working directly with communities – of youth in particular, in the areas of employment and economic development. My main focus has been on program planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. I'm also well practiced in proposal writing, project design, partnership establishment, and stakeholder management; from small community groups to major institutional donors.

My first job was as a Quality Assurance Supervisor at Inyange Limited – Rwanda’s leading beverage producing company. I used all of the knowledge, skills and experience gained whilst obtaining my BSc degree in Food Science and Technology during my tenure there.

From 2009 – 2011, I worked as a Business Development Specialist and later as the Organization Coordinator for the USAID Dairy Competitiveness Project. Our mission was to make Rwandan dairy industry more competitive within the region.

Between 2011 and 2015, I worked for Technoserve Inc as a Senior Business Advisor for the Regional Youth Development Program (Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania). It was my responsibility to sustainably improve livelihoods and income potential for 72,000 youth between the age of 18-30.

What made you choose  the ASYV? 

I first heard about the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village in 2012. The mission of the Village was one that I could relate to and after reading about the successes of the organization, I was left extremely impressed. My high expectations of the Village were exceeded upon being given the chance to attend Village Time last year. Truly speaking, I am elated to have recently been appointed the new Village Director of this incredible organization.

Drawing  reference to the mission of the Village (which resonates deeply with my passion for youth empowerment), I have come to understand that the difference between a career and a calling is conviction! I therefore take this as an opportunity to serve the purpose for which I was most likely created. Sharing my background and experience (which is similar to many of the ASYV kids) makes me feel like I'm where I'm meant to be. Throughout my entire life, I have always enjoyed working with youth, from capacity building to mentoring. Furthermore, I have always wished to work with orphans and that is exactly why I am convinced that this is my calling in life.

It is absolutely true that ASYV is more than just a village. It is a home, a family for many, and the entire mission and philosophy is one that encompasses hope and clear direction for the future of our kids. I feel so privileged to have been given the opportunity to contribute toward the process of transforming our kids into responsible citizens. 

What are your long and short-term goals for the Village? 

The short-term goals that I have planned for the Village are to:

  • Develop a Theory of Change which shall establish a clear link between staff roles and responsibilities to the ultimate mission of the institution by September 2016.
  • Develop partnerships with relevant institutions around entrepreneurship and to implement the entrepreneurship curriculum to ASYV by April 2016.
  • Work on staff capacity building - focusing on facilitation skills, effective communication, and management by June 2016.
  • Develop the infrastructure required for a practical leadership and mentorship program in order to encourage students to become well accustomed to sensible decision making and implementation. 

My long term goals for the village are to:

  • Establish solid Monitoring & Evaluation and performance management systems.
  • Install a culture of entrepreneurship and provide the resources required to increase the economic potential of our students and alumni.
  • Develop a high sense of responsibility and ownership among students.

What message do you have to all of our supporters/donors?

Speaking as a Rwandese and also the ASYV Village director, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to all of our supporters and donors for your unprecedented contribution and support. It is your generosity that has made it possible for all of us in the ASYV family to deliver on the mission for which ASYV was founded. I would also like to pledge my contribution toward the realization of all planned interventions that contribute to the healing, empowerment, and self-reliance of our students. Together, we can help them on their journeys to becoming positive change makers for themselves and others.